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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger revealed he had no regrets over his decision to leave out Hector Bellerin and Theo Walcott from Monday night game where we lost 2-1 to Watford at the Emirates Stadium.
The duo returned from injury and featured in our 5-0 victory over Southampton in the FA Cup with Walcott scoring a hat-trick to give us a well-deserved victory.
It was believed Wenger was considering Saturday’s game to Chelsea and decided to decide to hold back Walcott.
“He played in the second half,” Wenger said of the forward. “If you look at his history, he was not played in five and half weeks.
“He was stiff yesterday. I kept him out of training yesterday. We have three games this week. We know well.
“Don’t think we are completely stupid in the way we make decisions. I think it was a normal decision.”
There is no doubt the team struggled in the absence of Bellerin, whose pace is a crucial asset to Wenger’s side in attack and defence, but Wenger saw good reasons to include Gabriel.
“We knew that we had to be strong in the air because of the direct challenges.
“Bellerin has just come back from injury. He’s not completely, in my opinion, recovered, with his ankle.
“We knew that the main danger was on set pieces and we thought that every time Gabriel has played recently he has done extremely well in this position. I don’t think that tonight he is at fault on the goals. You have to look somewhere else.”
Arsene Wenger insisted he had no regrets over his decision to leave out Hector Bellerin and Theo Walcott from Arsenal’sstarting XI in their 2-1 defeat to Watford.
Both Bellerin and Walcott had returned from injuries in Saturday’s 5-0 FA Cup win over Southampton but were confined to the bench at the start of Tuesday’s game at the Emirates.
Walcott was thrown on at half-time for Olivier Giroud but by then it was too late for Arsenal, already 2-0 down after goals from Younes Kaboul and Troy Deeney, to mount a comeback despite Alex Iwobi’s goal before the hour.
However Wenger, who also had to consider Saturday lunchtime’s visit to Chelsea, insisted that he had made a “normal” decision to hold Walcott back.
Bellerin’s absence was perhaps even more keenly felt. Arsenal consistently found space on the right behind Watford’s M’Baye Niang but in converted centre-back Gabriel they did not have a player capable of testing the visitors in the air.
Wenger had effectively frozen out Bellerin’s two most natural deputies – Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson – and put them up for sale in the January transfer market, though neither departed the Emirates.